Friday, January 30, 2009

Napoleon in Love

Every once in awhile I make myself read a book that disagrees with my own settled opinion of the historical figures I'm focusing on in my alternative history WIP. I figure it keeps me honest by forcing me to at least acknowledge that other perspectives exist.

Napoleon in Love (RF Delderfield, 1959), a history of Napoleon's marriages and major affairs, is one of those books. I'm no admirer of Napoleon's. I swear Delderfield had a man-crush on him. He gets all huffy and wounded over anyone who ever betrayed or double-crossed Napoleon, which struck me as a bit rich, to say the least, because it's not like Napoleon never used anyone for his own selfish interests, oh no!

That said, it really is good for me to be reminded that not everyone hates my antagonist. :-) A warning to anyone who comes across this book, though--it really shows its age. Delderfield indulges in broad stereotypes of just about every ethnicity other than the French and the English. And while I don't think Marie Louise was the sharpest knife in the drawer, I don't think she could've possibly been as bovinely dull as Delderfield accuses her of being.

Still, as much as this book annoyed me, I don't regret reading it. It's a colorful view of Napoleon's court, and I got some potential ideas for the WIP.

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